Do Kids Need TSA PreCheck & Global Entry?

Do Kids Need TSA PreCheck & Global Entry?

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As a new parent, I sure am learning a lot. That includes getting up-to-date on all the logistics of traveling with a baby, even if we haven’t actually taken Miles on a major trip yet (worry not, it’ll happen soon!).

I recently wrote about our experience getting a passport for our baby, so in this post I wanted to discuss the next thing on our “to do” list when it comes to travel — how do TSA PreCheck and Global Entry work when traveling with your little one?

Trusted Traveler Programs for children & babies

As any frequent traveler in the United States can attest, there are certain programs that make the travel process easier. These are known as Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP), and include TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, and NEXUS. For those not familiar with these programs:

  • TSA PreCheck offers expedited security screening at US airports, whereby you get access to dedicated lanes, and don’t have to take off your shoes, remove your laptop, or go through the full body scanner
  • Global Entry offers expedited immigration into the United States when arriving from abroad at designated ports by air, land, or sea
  • NEXUS offers expedited immigration into the United States and Canada when arriving from abroad at designated ports by air, land, or sea

All of these programs require enrollment, and then your membership is valid for five years (if you enroll in Global Entry or NEXUS, TSA PreCheck is automatically included). What happens when you’re traveling with a child, though? Do they need their own membership, or is traveling with a parent that’s a member enough? Let’s look at the details by program.

Do children & babies need TSA PreCheck?

TSA PreCheck is the most generous program in this regard. Children age 12 or younger can use TSA PreCheck lanes when traveling with a parent or guardian who has TSA PreCheck on their itinerary. So there’s no need to actually get your child a TSA PreCheck membership, assuming they fall in that age range.

Children 12 or under can use TSA PreCheck with parents

Do children & babies need Global Entry?

Unlike with TSA PreCheck, children need their own membership in order to enter the US through Global Entry — parents having a membership isn’t sufficient. This applies regardless of a child’s age, so even a newborn would need their own Global Entry membership.

Those under the age of 18 need the consent of their parent or legal guardian in order to participate in the program. Furthermore, the parent or legal guardian needs to attend the in-person interview (however, only one parent needs to attend, unlike at an appointment to issue a passport, which requires both parents). However, note that the parent or legal guardian doesn’t need to be a Global Entry member to enroll a child (though realistically most parents probably will be).

If you’re a Global Entry member, there’s a huge incentive to enroll your child in the program ASAP as well, since Global Entry is kind of useless if two parents are members, but a child isn’t, since it’s not like you’re going to send the child through the border alone.

Children need their own Global Entry membership

Do children & babies need NEXUS?

In the interest of being thorough, the rules for children are the same for NEXUS as they are for Global Entry. That’s to say that children, regardless of age, need their own NEXUS membership in order to use NEXUS, even if traveling with a parent who is a member.

One major benefit of NEXUS is that there are no enrollment fees for applicants under the age of 18, so this is something you can apply for at no cost for your kids.

Children need their own NEXUS membership

Why do children & babies need their own Global Entry or NEXUS?

The policy is the policy, and there’s nothing we can do it. I’m just curious, though, does anyone know the logic of why children (regardless of age) can’t use Global Entry or NEXUS with their parents?

  • Ultimately it’s up to parents to declare on behalf of children anything they’re bringing into the country
  • It doesn’t seem like an infant would really need a background check, and I feel like our two-month-old probably won’t be especially chatty during the Global Entry interview 😉
  • If I’m not mistaken, they don’t actually take fingerprints for infants below a certain age, which is typically one of the major reasons for the interview
  • If the parents are Global Entry members, they’ve already gone through the Global Entry interview process, and have been vetted

Is this just a poorly thought out technicality, or is there some logic I’m missing? I can appreciate maybe wanting a kid to have their own Global Entry when they’re older, but an infant? I just don’t follow the logic.

Bottom line

When it comes to the major Trusted Traveler Programs, policies differ as to whether kids need their own membership. Kids 12 or under don’t need their own TSA PreCheck membership if they’re traveling with an adult who has a membership. Meanwhile kids, regardless of age, need their own Global Entry or NEXUS membership, in order to use those lanes when entering the country.

To parents, what has your experience been when traveling with children and using TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, or NEXUS?

Conversations (21)
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  1. Peter Guest

    The global entry interview with both of my infant kids was hilarious. They did try to put their hands on the fingerprint scanner to collect some bio data, which obviously doesn’t work. Be prepared to always get the X on the slip that prints out though to show to a passport control officer. But you skip the line, and mobile passport may become a thing of the past soon anyway.

  2. Duncan Guest

    Lucky, if Miles has the correct paperwork to enter South Africa and his parents not get arrested then you can take him anywhere. People forget "child trafficking" is a big issue in many parts of the world, unfortunately.

  3. ScottS New Member

    We just did our 1 year old daughters entry on arrival interview at DFW on Monday when we moved back to the States. Pretty easy to do really. Had a free one with my credit card. Wife and I already have it. Crazy that an infant is required to have it.

  4. Andrew Miller Guest

    FYI on TSA Pre…

    ‘ Children between the ages of 13 and 17 who will be traveling on the same reservation as an enrolled parent or guardian may also access the TSA PreCheck® lanes, provided the children have the TSA PreCheck® indicator on their boarding pass.’

    https://www.tsa.gov/travel/frequently-asked-questions/do-children-need-apply

  5. Brian Guest

    I've had Global Entry, but between me and my wife we have 3 cards with GE/TSA credits so it was time to get her and the 2 kids (8 and 10 yrs old) Global Entry. Its a no brainer if you're using free credit card benefits and when my kids turn 12 they will still have their own TSA Precheck. I was planning on doing Interview upon Arrival when departing through Dublin in November but...

    I've had Global Entry, but between me and my wife we have 3 cards with GE/TSA credits so it was time to get her and the 2 kids (8 and 10 yrs old) Global Entry. Its a no brainer if you're using free credit card benefits and when my kids turn 12 they will still have their own TSA Precheck. I was planning on doing Interview upon Arrival when departing through Dublin in November but check a few times a day, we live near Dulles but DC had interviews pop up one Saturday morning for that day this past week.....I feel the interview sites are trying to control their workflows and releasing as it suits them!

  6. Avery Witherspoon Guest

    The major advantage of Nexus is that it’s cheaper and you can use the Nexus lanes going in to Canada, greatly reducing your wait time at the border. Global Entry allows you to use Nexus lanes on your way back to the US but not going in to Canada. It’s really only worthwhile if you are planning land travel over the Canadian border.

  7. Ellen Guest

    If you travel internationally with kids, I strongly encourage getting them Global Entry. There is nothing better after a transcontinental flight than whizzing by all the people in line and getting through passport control. Add the automatic TSA precheck and it's a huge bonus. Definitely worth the time and hassle of the interview on arrival.

  8. FreqFlyer Guest

    Children are required to have their separate enrollment to help mitigate child trafficking.

    1. DCflyer Guest

      How does a separate enrollment for the child mitigate trafficking? The Adult enrolled in Global Entry would seem more likely to mitigate the risk of child trafficking.

    2. Eskimo Guest

      And yet another person who blindly follows the rule and regulation without any understanding and defends the rule when logic comes before rules.

      @DCflyer is correct to question how it helps mitigate child trafficking.

      The whole thing falls under a trusted traveler program.
      My question is why should children even need a separate GE or NEXUS.

      - You think a 10 year old with no criminal background is less trustworthy than the parents?
      ...

      And yet another person who blindly follows the rule and regulation without any understanding and defends the rule when logic comes before rules.

      @DCflyer is correct to question how it helps mitigate child trafficking.

      The whole thing falls under a trusted traveler program.
      My question is why should children even need a separate GE or NEXUS.

      - You think a 10 year old with no criminal background is less trustworthy than the parents?
      - If a 10 year old does have a criminal background, you think the parents would pass the background check?
      - You think a 16 year old have no criminal background because the person is trustworthy or just because the kid is still too young to commit any crimes yet?
      - And if you think a child is evading CBP and get away with crime, maybe you should focus on how the parents even got GE.
      - Or if you think someone with GE is trafficking a child, maybe you should focus on how they got GE.

      GE/NEXUS still positively ID you.

      Maybe someone just thinks it's a good excuse to mass collect fingerprints. ;)

  9. Ivo SIo Guest

    As a US Citizen, can I get both Global Entry & NEXUS? Plus APEC? I am currently enrolled in Global Entry & APEC and planning to enroll NEXUS. Also will enroll both Global Entry & NEXUS for my child once he say hello world in 2023.

    1. Cherie S Guest

      What would you gain with Nexus if you already have Global Entry? I feel I am missing something.

    2. IVO Sio Guest

      As I know Nexus is for frequent Canada travel. Is is like Canada version of Global Entry. As I know as a Global Entry card holder, I can use NEXUS lane only when return to US from Canada, but no Nexus lane for me when entering Canada (Correct me if I am wrong). That why I’m consider to get Nexus.

  10. BigDaddyJ Guest

    I do have Global Entry, and it grants me PreCheck (and my son usually gets it on the same itinerary).

    For re-entry into the US, I've typically found Mobile Passport to be about as fast as Global Entry, so if you don't want to go through the hassle of enrolling them, that might be an alternative.

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      “I've typically found Mobile Passport to be about as fast as Global Entry”

      Unless your travel with kids is very infrequent, why risk the wait?

      Even if your cc doesn’t pay for GE, it’s $20/year.

  11. Tom Guest

    Don’t forget that kids can also use Clear with a parent without enrolling etc. it’s technically up to 12 years old but in practice not enforced at all….

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      Maybe you don’t notice the enforcement because it’s “technically” children up to 18.

    2. DCflyer Guest

      I recently brought my 13 year old through Clear and they also got TSA precheck on their boarding pass. I'm the only person enrolled (in Clear and Precheck).

  12. Jonathan Guest

    Nexus is free for kids. Worth it.

  13. Debo Member

    I realized kids need Global Entry in the middle of a trip to France with our 9-month old. Created an email and Trusted Traveller profile, then submitted the GE application. Took about 15 minutes total. Got conditionally approved in 2 days and asked for “Interview on Arrival”. Once we got home, the “interview” took about five seconds as we picked up our kid from the stroller and showed her to the CBP official. Very smooth process overall.

    1. Dan Guest

      Similar experience here getting Global Entry when my daughter was 1. They take a photo during the “interview”. I was pretty shocked when the global entry machine recognized her face a year later.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

FreqFlyer Guest

Children are required to have their separate enrollment to help mitigate child trafficking.

1
Debo Member

I realized kids need Global Entry in the middle of a trip to France with our 9-month old. Created an email and Trusted Traveller profile, then submitted the GE application. Took about 15 minutes total. Got conditionally approved in 2 days and asked for “Interview on Arrival”. Once we got home, the “interview” took about five seconds as we picked up our kid from the stroller and showed her to the CBP official. Very smooth process overall.

1
Peter Guest

The global entry interview with both of my infant kids was hilarious. They did try to put their hands on the fingerprint scanner to collect some bio data, which obviously doesn’t work. Be prepared to always get the X on the slip that prints out though to show to a passport control officer. But you skip the line, and mobile passport may become a thing of the past soon anyway.

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